Adult social care at a crossroads: Labour’s promises and Imosphere’s hopes

Following the Labour Party’s victory in the UK general election, Imosphere feels a mixture of concern and hope as the new government begins its tenure. We are disappointed that Labour’s manifesto lacks funded commitments to adult social care. The absence of specific funding and detailed implementation plans is cause for criticism and skepticism about the feasibility and impact of these proposals. However, we remain optimistic about the potential for productive dialogue and positive change.

Adult social care is at a crucial juncture, facing significant challenges that require immediate and focused attention. It’s vital to recognise the independent importance of adult social care, not merely as a support system for the NHS but as a critical issue in its own right. The ecosystem of organisations and dedicated care workers involved needs comprehensive examination and support for things to work in the best possible way.

It is essential to discuss the implications of the Dilnot Report’s recommendations, particularly the care cap policy. This policy aims to alleviate the financial burden of care on individuals by capping the total amount one would have to pay for care. By reducing the fear of excessive costs, this policy should encourage people to seek help from adult social care services sooner, enabling earlier intervention and more effective preventative support.

Unfortunately, the Labour manifesto does not mention the cap. However, there is a promising indication of support for the policy. When asked recently if Labour would stick to the October 2025 deadline on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, new Health and Care Secretary Wes Streeting said: “That’s the plan, as things stand.” He added that the aim was to offer “stability at this stage” for the sector, while a wider consultation on reform takes place.

The Labour Party has made some promising commitments in their manifesto, such as the pledge to integrate health and social care services through a “national care service” aimed at ensuring consistency and high-quality care across the country through national standards. This integration aims to create a more seamless experience for those who need care, reducing bureaucratic hurdles and ensuring that services are more person-centred. Additionally, Labour’s focus on increasing funding for public services bodes well for the future of adult social care, as it suggests a recognition of the need for substantial investment to address long-standing issues within the sector.

The party also promises to provide councils with multi-year funding settlements but does not address overall funding levels, despite a reported £6.2 billion funding gap facing authorities in England over the next two years. Labour also commits to reforming the Mental Health Act 1983, similar to the current government’s draft Mental Health Bill, but does not mention reviving the Liberty Protection Safeguards.

At Imosphere, we are committed to working collaboratively with policymakers, local authorities, and people with lived experience to make the adult social care journey the best it can be, whether that is through supporting more digital and self-assessments, designing tools to better capture the effectiveness of preventative solutions, or ensuring that the limited public sector funds are distributed fairly and consistently based on needs.

Imosphere is hopeful that the Labour government will take these initial steps further by developing comprehensive policies that address the full spectrum of adult social care needs. This includes not only financial support but also ensuring the sector has a robust and well-trained workforce, adequate resources, and a clear strategic vision for the future. We envision public services capable of implementing real and effective preventative measures, not just to save money but to encourage people to live strong, healthy lives.

While there are challenges ahead, Imosphere is optimistic about the potential for meaningful progress in adult social care under Labour’s leadership. By prioritising this crucial area and fostering collaboration with stakeholders, we believe that the new government can make a significant positive impact on the lives of those who depend on adult social care services.